Following Putni's pre-dawn speech Thursday 24, 2022, the Russian military invaded Ukraine from three points - north, east and south of Ukraine borders. Attacking the nation from air, on land and sea, they, foremost, targeted military and airport sites.
The attack, to some extent, was unexpected as Russia had for several weeks prior to the invasion denied its intention to attack Ukraine. Even so, the president of US, Joe Biden, prior to the attack, had stated Russia was preparing for a full-blown attack. According to The Guardian, Biden had told his allied leaders, including other NATO and EU leaders, US believed Russia would invade Ukraine in the next few days.
According to Jake Sullivan, US national security advisor, as quoted by The Guardian, if the Russian proceeded in attacking Ukraine, "it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality. A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force with virtually no notice. Communications to arrange a departure could be severand commercial transit halted."
Casualties and Refugees Status
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 500,000 people had fled to neighbouring countries, and over 100,000 had been displaced within Ukraine as of February 28. One week after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the number had skyrocketed to more than one million.
The majority of Ukrainians are fleeing to neighbouring countries situated west of Ukraine - Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Mordova and Poland. A smaller number have crossed to Russia and Belarus. Some of the Ukrainians who have fled to these nations have moved on to other European countries.
It has been difficult establishing the exact number of civilian and deaths due to the ongoing war. An estimated 227 civilians had been killed and 524 injured, per the United Nations estimate, within five days since the war broke up. According to the Ukrainian State Emergency Services, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the invasion.
On March 2, Russia claimed they'd killed 2,870 of Ukranian troops with more than 3,500 injured. It asserted that 498 of its armed forces were killed and 1,597 injured.
Ukraine hasn't released how many of its troops have been killed and wounded. On March 5, Ukraine asserted they'd killed more than 10,000 Russian troops. Additionally, they've destroyed 39 aircrafts, 40 helicopters, 269 tanks, 945 armoured vehicles, 105 artillery systems, 409 vehicles, and 60 fuel tanks, including disabling three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Battle for Ukraine's Seizure
Compared to Russia's military and weapons strength, the expectation was Ukraine would crumble withing a few days. The Ukraine's military resilience has slowed Russia's progress in seizing a large portion of Ukraine in a matter of days, particularly Ukraine's major cities.
Assessing Russia's failure to invade Ukraine within a short time frame, Scowcroft Centre's Forward Defense (FD) states that "Russia invasion has been rife with tactical, operational, and strategic errors and, as a result, we assess that the Kremlin appears to be behind its own timelines for the invasion." According to FD, the major contributing factor of Russia's military failure in claiming the major cities of Ukraine is its inability "to establish air superiority over Ukraine, and they are suffering huge and unsustainable aircraft losses. The failure to win air superiority has prevented Russia from fully leveraging its impressive arsenal of ground-attack aircraft and helicopters."
While they've succeeded in the naval section, Russian ground forces have also been stalled from capturing Ukraine's two major cities, Kyviv and Kharkiv. "Russian advances have been slowed primarily by strong Ukrainian resistance, the fact that its forces are mainly limited to roads, and logistical problems," states FD. Furthermore, the organisation states, "The Russians have plenty of combat power to regain the initiative and defeat Ukrainian resistance, but they may have to resort to more indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery barrages."
The New York Times states that many military analysts were surprised "Ukrainian troops are mounting a stiffer-than-expected resistance to Russian forces up and down battle lines across a country the size of Texas, fighting with a resourcefulness and creativity that US analysts said could trip up Russian troops for weeks or months to come."
The Russian military forces are redesigning their attack strategy. As reported by Cable News Network (CNN), US and other western officials have told the broadcasting corporation that "Russia's strategy in its war on Ukraine is shifting toward a "slow annihilation" of the Ukrainian military." According to the officials, Russia had initially targeted military sites. However, "there have been missile, artillery and rocket attacks against many civilian areas, where they may be administrative buildings but no security installations." CNN states they've verified the officials' statement as evidenced in the attacks that were carried out in Irpin, near Kyviv, as well as Mariupol, Borodjanka, Kharkov and Kherson.
International Legion of Territorial Defense
A few days following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy requested non-Ukrainian citizens, worldwide, to volunteer fighting alongside Ukraine forces in repelling the Russian forces.
People from various countries, particularly in Europe and North America, responded to the President's call. Those who were willing to volunteer were asked to apply at a Ukrainian embassy in their countries.
The foreign volunteer fighters should have the required training or combat experience since the situation in Ukraine doesn't require in-depth training for those who don't have the training or experience in fighting in battles.
According to Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, nearly 20,000 foreigners have applied to fight alongside Ukraine against the Invader forces. The Minister said that experienced veterans and volunteers from 52 countries had heeded the call.
Exodus in Russia
While more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia's invasion, tens of thousands of Russians are fleeing from their country.
The possibility of Putni closing Russia borders, arrest to anyone who protests Russia's invasion of Ukraine and reporting what Moscow deems as 'fake' news in relation to Russo-Ukraine war, and how Russia's economy will fair in the coming days resulting from sanctions placed on it by a number of western, European and Asian countries, including exodus of companies from the country, are the reasons why a number of Russians are escaping from their country.
Many Russians are becoming increasingly afraid Putni might "introduce martial law to deal with demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine," states British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC). The news organisation further notes, "If martial law were introduced, Mr. Putni would be free to do what he wanted, without having to worry about damaging protests in the streets. He has already made it clear to French President Emmanuel Macron that he won't stop until he has occupied the whole of Ukraine - and a French official who listened in on their phone call said, afterwards, the things could get a great deal worse."
However, Kremlin has denied it's in the process of instituting martial law in the country.
Russian Hitmen Contracted Assassinate Ukraine's President
On the morning of the first Saturday following Russia's invasion on Ukraine, Ukraine's government learnt hundreds of killers-for-hires were sent to Ukraine, from Africa, to terminate Russia's president, prime minister, Kyiv's mayor, and other senior government officials.
Hours later, following the intelligence, Kyiv declared a 36-hours curfew so as to terminate the Russian saboteurs. It warned civilians if any was found outside during the curfew period, they'd be marked as Russian mercenaries, and risk being slain.
The mercenaries arrived in Ukraine five weeks prior to the invasion. Their task was to kill Zelenskyy (and his family - wife and two kids) and his government (23 government officials) so as to pave way for Moscow to take control.
According to The Times, UK, a source informed the newspaper that between 2,000-4,000 hitmen were flown from Africa to Ukraine. More than 400 are stationed in Kyiv while the rest are in the two separist regions of Ukraine - Donetsk and Luhansk.
President Zelenskyy acknowledged he's wanted dead by Moscow; topping the killers' list, with his family being target #2.
The Times reports that Zelenskyy has survived three assassination attempts one week following the invasion. The newspaper states that two groups were sent to kill Zelenskyy - Kremlin-backed Wagner Group and Chechen special forces. However, the two outfits' mission has been thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) states The Times.
The newspaper notes, "Wagner mercenaries in Kyiv have sustained losses during their attempts and are said to have been alarmed by how accurately the Ukrainians had anticipated their moves. A source close to the group said it was "eerie" how well briefed Zelensky's security team appeared to be."
In an interview with Ukrayinska Pravda, the Advisor to the Head of the President's Office, Mykhalii Podoliak, remarked there had been more than a dozen attempts to assassinate Zelenskyy as opposed to three attempts reported by foreign sources. He stated that they're "constantly receiving intelligence that there are reconnaissance groups trying to enter government quarters and the like."
"We have a very strong network of intelligence and counterintelligence - they are monitoring this situation and these reconnaissance groups are being eliminated on their approach. That is to say, we are aware of their plans and our counterintelligence is taking care of the situation," Podoliak told the publication, Ukrayinska Pravda.
A Mayor of a Ukranian City Captured
Mr. Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol city was captured by Russian soldiers following the city falling under the Russian control.
A footage released by Ukraine's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection shows a man's head covered in a black plastic bag being escorted outside of the city's crisis centre. According to Zelenskyy and Ukranian officials, Mr. Fedorov was kidnapped by 10 Russian soldiers on Friday, 11 March. The location where he's being held hostage isn't known.
On her Twitter handle, Ukranian MP, Maria Ionova wrote "#Kidnapped Melitopol city mayor Ivan Fedorov is being forced to break his oath of allegiance to Ukranian people and join invader's side or resign."
An estimated 2,000 people took to the streets of Melitopol city demanding for his release.
The city of Melitopol fell into the hands of Russia on February 26. It's an estimated population of 150,000 people.
Why Has Putni attacked Ukraine
Based on Putni's speeches, including an essay he penned, and views from political and military analysts, the following are the likelihood reasons why Putni has invaded Ukraine.
a) NATO'S Expansion into Eastern Europe. Putni has been against Ukraine being enlisted as a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including former Soviet countries. He wants NATO to disregard membership to the former Soviet Union's countries, including Ukraine, and to halt its expansion in the Eastern Europe.
He regards NATO'S expansion in Eastern Europe (deployment of millitary activity/cooperation with Eastern cointries) as a threat to Russia which, based on his Thursday's speech, compelled Russia to attack Ukraine as an act of self-defense against the organisation's expansion.
It had been feared for many decades that NATO's expansion in Eastern Europe would lead to war. "Analysts committed to a US foreign policy of realism and restraint have warned for more than a quarter-century that continuing to expand the most powerful military alliance in history toward the major power would not end well. The war in Ukraine provides definitive confirmation that it did not," states The Guardian.
NATO refuted Putni's allegation the alliance is a threat to Russia instead asserted it's a defensive alliance.
In his speeches, Putni faulted NATO for expanding eastward following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
NATO was formed in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several western European nations, to "provide collective security against the Soviet Union."
b) Lack of Ukraine's status as an independent, sovereign country. Putni doesn't consider Ukraine as a legitimate country, that is, an independent, sovereign country. In his speeches, he has asserted Ukraine was created by the collapsed Soviet Union under the Union's first leader, Vladimir Lenin. Furthermore, he remarks Ukraine didn't break away from the Soviet Union on its own. It was Russia that granted it the right to become an independent nation. These assertions have been rubbished off as untrue as Ukraine's and Soviet's historical records paint an otherwise picture.
According to Jacob Lassin of Arizona State University and Emily Channell-Justice of Harvard University in an article published on The Conversation, titled, 'Why Putni has such a hard time accepting Ukrainian sovereignty,' they remark that Putni views Ukraine as part of Russian empire. Ukraine, they say, was for centuries known within the Russian empire as 'Little Russia.' "The use of the term strengthened the idea that Ukraine was a junior member of the empire. And it was backed by Czarist policies dating from the 18th century that suppressed the use of the Ukrainian language and culture. The intention of these policies was to establish a dominant Russia and later strip Ukraine of an identity as an independent, sovereign country."
They conclude, "Most Ukrainians see their future as a sovereign country that is part of Europe. But this directly contradicts Putni's goals of expanding the Russian world. They are conflicting visions that help explain why Ukraine remains a flash point."
c) Ukraine's committing genocide against the minority Russians in the country. He has accused Ukraine of committing genocide against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine; terming the Ukraine's government a NAZI regime. This is in reference to the raging war between Russian-backed rebels in Donestk and Luhansk regions and Ukraine's forces that has spanned for almost eight years. The war has claimed more than 14,000 lives.
On February 21, 2022, Putni declared the two regions in Donbas as independent states, and as a result, ordered armed forces to be sent to the two regions for 'peacekeeping' operation. Nonetheless, this move was looked upon with suspicion by US military intelligence as a catalyst for invasion.
Ukraine filed a suit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague against Russia's assertion "it invaded its neighbour to prevent genocide and asking judges to order an immediate halt to Russian military operations."
d) Ukraine's modern threat to Russia. Not only did Putni allege Ukraine was becoming a threat to Russia due to its wish to become a member of NATO, he also stated that Ukraine is posing a threat to Russia as it's working towards owning nuclear weapons - having the knowledge and means to do so.
Prior to Ukraine returning all of its nuclear heads to Russia, a few years after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1992, Ukraine "held the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including an estimated 1,900 strategic warheads, 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and 44 strategic bombers." In an agreement with the USA, the UK, and Russia, Ukraine had returned all the warheads in its possession to Russia "in exchange for economic and security assurances, and in December 1994, Ukraine became a non-nuclear weapon state-party to the nuclear proliferation Treaty (NPT). The last strategic nuclear delivery vehicle in Ukraine was eliminated in 2001 under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)," states Arms Control Association.
However, ironically, Russia went contrary to the security assurances it had agreed to that were outlined in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Foreign Ministry in response to its betrayal on what it had promised Ukraine, in relation to Russia seizing Crimea from Ukraine, stated, "the severity assurances were given to the legitimate government of Ukraine but not to the forces that came to power following the coup d' etat."
The 'coup d' tat' refers to the ouster of pro-Russian Ukraine's President, Viktor Yanukovych, following mass protest in the country. Unlike the view of majority of Ukrainians who desired their country to become one of the members of European Union, the former president wanted the country to join an economic union with Russia.
Putni's allegation of Ukraine's readiness to be armed with nuclear weapons has been refuted as baseless as there's no evidence to prove his assertion.
e) Re-establishment of the Russian Empire - Soviet Union. Though Putni hasn't states it openly, it is believed Putni wants to resurrect the Soviet Union. Putni is fighting against NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe as it'd prove difficult for Russia to exert commanding influence, as it was during the Soviet's era, on the former Soviet's countries, including Ukraine - especially politically and economically.
The Washington Post states that prior to Russia's attack on Ukraine, "Putin’s use of troops abroad — in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine — has been taken by some as evidence of a desire to rebuild the Soviet Union. U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), among others, have suggested this interpretation. So did President Biden in his Thursday comments announcing further sanctions."
Putni, in his speeches, has asserted that Russia and Ukraine share a lot in common e.g. social and cultural ties. The two countries had good relations until 2014 when Russia attacked, and seized, Crimea. This act - annexing Crimea - triggered a rebellion in the east of Ukraine. More so, Russia supported the separists who have been fighting Ukrainian forces until February 2022.
© 2022 Alianess Benny Njuguna